Freud's Early Psychoanalysis, Witch Trials and the Inquisitorial Method: The Harsh Therapy

1st Edition

Kathleen Duffy

November 29, 2019 Forthcoming
Reference - 208 Pages - 4 B/W Illustrations
ISBN 9780367369255 - CAT# 326764

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In Freud’s Early Psychoanalysis, Witch Trials and the Inquisitorial Method: The Harsh Therapy, Kathleen Duffy asks why Freud compared his ‘hysterical’ patients to the accused women in the ‘witch’ trials, and his ‘psychoanalytical’ treatment to the inquisitorial method of their judges. He wrote in 1897 to Wilhelm Fliess: ‘I ... understand the harsh therapy of the witches’ judges.’ This book proves that Freud’s view of his method as inquisitorial was both serious and accurate.

In this multi-disciplinary and in-depth examination, Duffy demonstrates that Freud carefully studied the ‘witch’ trial literature to develop the supposed parallels between his patients and the ‘witches’, and between his own psychoanalytic method and the judges’ inquisitorial extraction of ‘confessions’, if necessary by torture. She examines in meticulous detail both the ‘witch’ trial literature that Freud studied and his own case studies, papers, letters, and other writings. She shows that the various stages of his developing early psychoanalytic method, from the Katharina case of 1893, through the so-called seduction theory of 1896 and its retraction, to the Dora case of 1900, were indeed in many respects inquisitorial, and invalidated his patients’ experience.

This book demonstrates with devastating effect the destructive consequences of Freud’s nineteenth-century inquisitorial practice. This raises the question to what extent his mature practice, and psychoanalysis and psychotherapy today, despite great achievements, remain at times inquisitorial and consequently untrustworthy. This book will therefore be invaluable not only to academics, practitioners and students of psychoanalysis, psychotherapy, literature, history, and cultural studies, but also to those seeking professional psychoanalytic or psychotherapeutic help.


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